By ALFRED GABOT, Editor in Chief
QUEZON CITY — Congress, sitting as the National Board of Canvassers, proclaimed on May 25 former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. as the next president of the Philippines after its canvass confirmed his landslide victory in the May 9 elections.
The Senate and House of Representatives, in its joint session as NBOC at the Batasang Pambansa, also proclaimed Marcos’ vice presidential running mate, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, daughter of outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte, who was also elected by a huge margin.
Marcos will take his oath of office on June 30 after which he and Duterte will assume office starting at noon on June 30. Duterte will take her oath in Davao City on June 19 so she can join the oath-taking of Marcos in Manila.
Marcos and Duterte will lead the country suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic, P12 trillion debts, poverty and unemployment, insurgency, illegal drugs and crimes, among others.
Earlier, several world leaders, including US President Joseph Biden Jr., and those from China, Russia, Japan, Australia, South Korea and the European Union, congratulated Marcos on his election victory.
“I hereby proclaim Ferdinand Marcos Jr. as the duly elected President of the Philippines and Sara Zimmerman Duterte-Carpio as the duly elected vice president of the Philippines,” Senate President Vicente Sotto III and House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco said in a joint session of Congress.
Marcos defeated Vice President Maria Leonor Leni Robredo in a return bout to their race for the second highest post during the 2016 national elections. Robredo got 15,035,773 votes or 27.94 percent of the total votes tallied in the May 9 elections.
Marcos proclamation was witnessed by his family that included his wife Liza Araneta-Marcos, sister Sen. Maria Imelda Imee Marcos, sister Irene Marcos-Araneta and 92-year-old mother, former First Lady Imelda R. Marcos.
After the proclamation broadcast nationwide, a thankful Marcos Jr. said he is humbled by the result of the May 9 elections which Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri described as “historic in many ways.”
“I am humbled because for anyone in public service or in a public life, the most valuable thing you may receive from a fellow citizen is their vote. Because embedded in that vote are their hopes and their aspirations for the future. But also embedded in that vote are the trust and the confidence that they give to you to take them to that aspirational future,” he said.
“To have received over 31 million votes from our countrymen is as valuable expression of trust as can be had by anyone in public life. And so for that I thank our people. Beyond that, I promise you that we may not be perfect but we will always strive to perfection. Thank you very much,” he added.
Marcos also thanked the Comelec, teachers who served during the elections and National Board of Canvassers, among others, “for what I can say is, in my experience, the best-run elections that we have seen and that has reflected truly the voice of the people and the choice of the people. I am inspired by this responsibility that has been given me.”
He asked the public to pray for him, stressing “I want to do well because when a president does well, the country does well. And I want to do well for this country.”
Senator Maria Imelda Imee Marcos said they are very happy, especially their mother, former first lady Imelda Marcos, that they were given a second chance for the “restoration of faith and confidence with my family.”
“We are most grateful for this overwhelming majority vote. It’s extraordinary and some people say that it’s a second chance and it’s really remarkable. The return to Malacañang, galing na kami doon, hindi na mahalaga masyado ang pagbabalik sa palasyo,” she said in a television interview.
“What’s important to us of course, our name, the family name that has become so controversial and so difficult at time to bear, the legacy of my father is what we hope will be clarified at last,” she added.
“Indeed, our democracy is alive and vibrant! The ever-growing political interest shown by our electorate is symbolic of the people’s clamor for change, prosperity, and progress,” Romualdez said.
He noted that the Congress Joint Committee canvassed a total of 171 certificates of canvass (CoCs), 132 of which were electronically transmitted to the Consolidated and Canvassing System (CCS) by the Board of Canvassers of provinces, cities, and overseas absentee voting countries, while 39 were physically delivered to the Senate from the Special Board of Canvassers for overseas absentee voting, local absentee voting, and detainee voting.
“With the country reeling from the impact of a global pandemic and other major calamities and disasters, it was evident that the nation was divided as to what direction to take in order to move forward. But the majority has spoken. It is high time that we listen to their voice and uphold the outcome of our democratic process,” he said.
“Let us heal the wounds of political division, brace ourselves for the challenges ahead, and move forward as a strong and united Philippines. Let us be prepared to work harder for the nation and give our full support to the new leadership. At the end of the day, we are all Filipinos and we want nothing than to see our beloved nation chart its own course and ultimately triumph,” Romualdez added.
The Marcos-Duterte UniTeam tandem won on a platform of unity, which will be the “stepping-stone” of the country’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
Marcos’ candidacy faced several petitions calling for his disqualification from the race.
All the petitions, which primarily cited Marcos’ conviction before a Quezon City court over multiple failure to file his income tax return from 1982 to 1985, which supposedly makes him perpetually disqualified from holding public offices, were dismissed by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) prompting the petitioners to elevate them to the Supreme Court.
The petitioners filed a petition for certiorari before the Supreme Court, seeking a temporary restraining order for the Senate of the Philippines and the House of Representatives to stop canvassing the votes cast to Marcos during the just concluded 2022 national and local elections and to not proclaim him as the winner but the High Court did not stop the canvass of votes.
Hours before the joint Congress even finished the canvassing of votes, anti-Marcos protesters gathered along Commonwealth Avenue, one of the major roads that lead to the House of Representatives where the proclamation was held.
Marcos Jr. earlier announced the appointment of Duterte-Carpio as education secretary under his administration.
He also named lawyer Vic Rodriguez as his executive secretary, Cavite Representative and House Deputy Majority Leader Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla as the justice secretary, Philippine Competition Commission chief Arsenio Balisacan as the National Economic and Development Authoritychief, Bienvenido Laguesma as secretary of the Department of Labor and Employment, Susan “Toots” Ople as the secretary of the newly created Department of Migrant Workers and lawyer, and vlogger Trixie Cruz-Angeles as press secretary.
The former senator also vowed to continue the Build, Build, Build program of the Duterte administration and prioritize the development of digital infrastructure.
Duterte has promised to be supportive and loyal to Marcos when she was asked what kind of vice president she would be if she won the election.
She also has vowed to boost employment it had been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Duterte has said that she had initiated job generation programs and support for pandemic-affected families in Davao City.